The Eden Amateur Fishing Club has given away its largest ever prize pool as part of the annual March fishing competition, with hundreds turning out at Quarantine Bay for the draw and presentations.
A raffle, auction and free sausage sizzle lunch kept the large crowd entertained on Saturday, as they waited anxiously to see who would take home the main attraction, a Quintrex 420 Renegade boat valued at $15,490.
Melbourne visitor and long-time competitor Mick Loebert was the lucky winner, taking home the major prize after journeying up for around 20 years in a row.
This year’s competition saw the highest participation numbers in 22 years, with a total of 856 entrants across all sections.
Most encouraging for club president Bob Wilcox was the number of children casting out a line, with 73 boys and 44 girls enrolling for 2014.
Mr Wilcox believes the future of the club is in good hands, and says the competition is a great advertisement for the town.
“It certainly is good for the future of the club, and it’s good to see their little faces when they come up here with a fish that they think might win them a prize,” he said.
“We had well over 100 kids enter this year, which puts us in a good position for the future.
“The competition was originally put together by the Chamber of Commerce to bring people into Eden at a time when it was a bit quiet, and it’s been successful in doing that over the years.”
“People who have never been here before remark about how wonderful Eden is, and they’re keen to come back.
“We’ve already got a number of people booked to come back next year, and this is certainly the best year we’ve had in my time as president.”
Mr Wilcox said the club intended to start work on its sponsorship drive early this year, with the aim of putting on a bigger and better event in 2015.
He was also amazed by some of this year’s prized catches, which included two whoppers that tipped the scales at 120kg.
“We’d like to think we’ll be able to increase the value of our prizes next year,” Mr Wilcox said.
“It was a good financial result for us this year, and it puts us in a good position for next year.
“Fishing has been a bit patchy lately, but there’s always some good fish caught.
“The idea of the whole thing is not to catch a lot of fish, it’s just to get the big one and be standing up here on the podium at the end of the week.”